PORTLAND, Ore. -- A new Portland couple lost almost all of their belongings after the storage container they rented to move their things flooded in Houston.
All that Anna and Fidel Fernandez have left is what they packed into the car when they drove to Portland, from flood-ravaged Houston, in August.
“Losing everything is a terrible thing, but losing life is worse,” said Anna, who along with her husband is keeping things in perspective. But she said it’s still a crushing blow.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God!’” Fidel said. “Why?!”
Days before Hurricane Harvey hit, the couple packed their belongings into a storage container from Zippy Shell, in Houston. They left the container in their driveway to be picked up, then drove to Portland to begin a new job.
When the hurricane hit, Fidel said Zippy Shell didn't pick up the pod on time and it flooded. He said he only learned about the flooded container when a neighbor called to tell him. Fidel said he called the company looking for help and got something else from the employee.
“He made a joke,” said Fidel. “I asked him, honestly from my heart, ‘Are you OK? Do you have any damage?’ He said ‘No, and you know the funny thing is, the only damage we have is your container!’ I felt like somebody hit me in the gut.”
Recently, the Fernandez’s storage pod arrived in Portland. The couple said almost everything inside it— leather sofas, a new bed, TVs, clothes, shoes and more— was covered in toxic mold.
“They sent me trash just to charge me the whole shipment because there was no reason to send that at all,” said Fidel.
Zippy Shell spokeswoman Bailey Hewitt sent KGW the following statement Wednesday morning:
We empathize with the Fernandez family and understand their frustrations, as well as their emotions. Hurricane Harvey’s impact was vast and devastating. As we work with insurance to recuperate the financial loss of the family’s belongings, we are refunding the entire cost of the move and offering assistance for their immediate needs. When the family issued their claim with our company, our insurance processes were put into action to recuperate the costs of their belongings. Likewise, at the very moment our corporate team in Washington D.C. was made aware of the matter; we took immediate action to work with the family and our local franchise offices in Houston and Portland, which are independently owned and operated. We have spoken with the Fernandez family directly and they are aware that Zippy Shell is doing everything in its power to help. Our thoughts remain with the Fernandez family and all others recovering from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
After three weeks of sleeping on an air mattress, Anna and Fidel said their backs hurt and their health was suffering.
Fidel said Zippy Shell doesn't cover flood damage, which meant they would have to pay for another new bed, and everything else, out of pocket. After their experience, they hoped others preparing to move would heed their warning.
For now, the couple is holding fast to the things they do know, without a doubt.
“You have to live life, you have to be happy,” said Anna. “Live day by day.”